Due to depleted funds, the Paralympics Association of Botswana (PASSOBO) may see its athletes miss critical preparatory training camps for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, The Business Weekly Sports has established.
According to the vice president of PASSOBO, Montie Ratlou, the organisation for athletes with disabilities received support from the government to prepare for the paralympics aspect of the Olympics. “This time around we communicated with the Ministry of Sports through the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNOC) early and we were allocated funds as per our request,” Ratlou told this publication in a telephonic interview. “We were given P2.8 million for preparations as well as for the Games.”
However, Ratlou said things went awry early this year when they were to take part in a classification that was held in Dubai. “We paid for the competition and spent on it but were told at the last minute by the Ministry of Sports that we cannot travel to Dubai because of COVID-19,” he said. “As classification competitions are important for the Paralympics, we were forced to re-arrange and found another competition on May in Switzerland, which meant we still had to dig from the P2.8 million. This is the same money that we have been using to pay for training camps since September last year and to travel for competitions.” Paralympic classification competitions determine who is eligible to compete in a para sport. It groups the eligible athletes in sports classes according to their activity capacity for fair competition.
According to Ratlou, PASSOBO has only P600 000 in its coffers for the Paralympics. “But we still have to pay around P500 000 for our stay in Tokyo (games period),” he said. “We also have to pay for lodging as we wait to travel to Tokyo. As things stand, we might miss the pre-Games training camps as our funds are depleted.”
The pre-Games training camps are deemed important for helping athletes acclimatise to time zones and weather conditions of the hosting country or city. The Paralympic Games will be held in Tokyo, Japan from 24 August to 5 September 2021. The Games feature top athletes with disabilities and are held after the Olympics. Just like the Olympics, the Paralympics were supposed to be held in 2020 but were moved to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Paralympics would see Botswana being represented by Edwin Masuge (men’s 400m T13) and Gloria Majaga (women’s 400m T13). Bose Mokgwathi has pulled out owing to a hamstring injury. Ratlou said judging by their recent performances, their athletes are ready for the major international competition for persons with disabilities. Masuge and Majaga both clocked personal bests (PBs) in a recent competition in South Africa, Masuge sped to a PB of 50.53 seconds in the men’s 400 T13 race while Majaga clocked a PB of 1:03.16 in the women’s 400m T13 event.
“Their performances gave us hope that would perform well in Tokyo, especially Masuge who is currently ranked 9th in the world in his event,” said Ratlou. “We are optimistic that he will qualify for the final.”